The Gory Honor Of Glory
This is a stream-of-consciousness post, so you will have to Google your own links if I pique an interest in you.
I've been watching the classic BBC production of I, Claudius this week, and I was stuck by a comment one of the characters made in reference to the greatness of Rome. It had something to do with the lifestyle they were able to lead because of the conquests of other nations - the conquered providing a soft living for the conquerors as a form of tribute to prevent further attacks by Roman legions.
In modern terms, a district attorney would call such an arrangement extortion, a protection racket.
We can see this happening today, as the US continues to pressure Iran into giving up the one thing that would keep them from becoming a vassal state to the New Rome in Washington - nuclear power. Despite British efforts to include the EU members of the UN in deliberations (after all, they also get a large amount of their petroleum from Iran), the US is adamant that only the permanent security members US, Britain, and France (along with current temporary member Germany) get to decide the fate of Iran no matter what the other permanent security members Russia and China have to say.
The threat of war is the coersion to keep providing the resource wasted so scandalously by the 6% of the world's population whose government was the first to achieve harnessing the nuclear jinn in battle array. For a vassal nation to achieve the same accomplishment, and thus meet this threat on more equal terms (at least locally), cannot be allowed lest the other vassals recognize the weakness of the power state.
I happen to find it cruelly ironic that the power states tend to fall back upon Divine Favor as the reason they can ignore the religious tenets they expect even their own people to abide. It is OK for a national government to take actions for which the citizenry faces the loss of their freedom through incarceration, and for less justifiable reasons.
It was to limit this national ability toward criminal enterprise that the UN was created in the first place. I happen to also find it cruelly ironic that the nation that fostered the creation of such an organization as the UN has instead subverted and corrupted it to become a tool to use in the application of forced extortion that it was intended to prevent.
But to return to religious justification, I know of no instance of a modern religion endorsing the use of force to provide the enforcer with a softer life. I know of no tenet which says, in effect, 'take what you need from those who are weaker than you'. And yet, that has been the pattern since the beginning of recorded Western history - the Egyptians, for example.
'Might Makes Right' is a seductive statement, simultaneously justifying aggression and identifying the means. It certainly sounds better than 'I will do what I want to whomever I want until someone bigger than me stops me'.
But succumbing to such a belief weakens in the long run, for taking the easy way out narrows the focus and blinds toward other, more viable solutions.
The addiction to such power also seduces attempting to dominate more than one can handle, eventually weakening the entity enough so that as one vassal rises up in revolt, another sees an opportunity to do so as well, and the final days have arrived.
For a state to survive, there has to be a positive reason for the other nations to accept it, even when it strays off the path of righteousness. The more that power is applied in an abusive manner, the quicker that protective patina is eroded, and the quicker the lesser nations come to realize that they can make a better deal for themselves.